Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Happy First Week of School!

My apologies in advance, but I was not able to finish my Tech Tool Tuesday post for this week.  School began yesterday, and my daughter had her first day of kindergarten today (our school does a staggered start for kindergarten, where only 5 students go per day for the first week).  Plus my grad classes started for the semester, and I have a ton of reading to do.  I have had a wonderful start to my year, and I hope that everyone else has too!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Tech Tool Tuesday: Photo Booth

Happy Tuesday!  I have officially been back to work for two days.  We have Open House on Thursday, and then the kids come back on Monday.  I'm not sure which I am more nervous about: starting a new school year or my daughter starting kindergarten!  I have concerns, but I will save those for another post.  Nothing is more humbling than being a parent. 

Today I am doing my Tech Tool Tuesday, which I will also link up to Technology Tool Tuesday on Blog Hoppin'.
Today I wanted to share a tip for Photo Booth.  If you have MacBooks or iPads, then you may be familiar with this program/app.  My students NEVER get tired of making pictures of themselves and their friends.  Whenever they get "free time" on their laptops, this is almost always what they will choose to do.

I was excited to learn a new trick to Photo Booth when I went to Discovery Communications this summer (home to Discovery Education).   Students can put themselves into an image or video with just a few simple steps!

First, have your students find a picture or video that they can use.  I downloaded a picture of fireworks behind Mount Rushmore from the many images that are available in Discovery Education.

Next, scroll through the effects until you find the user backdrops.

Drag the downloaded picture onto User Backdrop 1.
The next step is the tricky will tell you to step out of the frame so that it can detect the background.  Once the background shows up you can go in the picture.

Then click on the camera timer to take your picture.  You may have to do a few trial pictures to make sure that you can see enough of the background.  It also won't work if there is too much movement behind you.
Here is one that I took of my daughter and me.  Photo Booth pics are fun, but they are definitely not flattering!

This can be a lot of fun for students.  What are some ways that you would use this with your class?

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Finish This Sentence

Like many other busy bloggers, I have not had much free time to post lately.  I have no idea what everyone has been up's not like it's the beginning of the school year!  :-D

I honestly have not been doing much school work this week.  Since it was the last full week of summer break, I spent a lot of time taking my daughter swimming and having the playdates that we had put off (you know, when you were thinking, "But we have all summer!").  It was a fun week, but I am exhausted. 

Now I am busy finishing up all of my back-to-school projects (again, thinking, "But we have all summer!").   My house is a mess of projects, but I know that everything will get done by August 27.

I found the "You Know It's Back to School Time When..." linky party at Kindergarten Lifestyles and decided to join in.    You need to finish the following sentence:
The first thing that came to mind for me was this:
Am I the only one that has these?  My nervousness always shows up in my dreams before anything else!  Then I had this one:
I swear that I have made a million trips to Staples.  Now I am working on cutting out laminating and finishing up other projects.  Again, surely I am not alone!

I am looking forward to reading other posts!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Tech Tool Tuesday: PebbleGo

Okay, I know that it is actually Wednesday.  Yesterday I was helping to create a first quarter math assessment for my district, and my head was spinning by the end of the day.  Keeping up with Common Core is going to make this year interesting!

My Tech Tool for this week is PebbleGo.  This is not a free program, but it is a must-have for elementary schools.  When working on technology projects in my grad classes, I find that many programs are geared for upper grade students.  PebbleGo is ideal for young students who are just learning research skills.
PebbleGo currently has 3 databases of information: Animals, Biographies, and Eartth and Space.  Schools have the option to purchases access to just one or to all three.  My third graders used the biography information quite a bit last year.  My students had no problem with the reading level of the information, but there is an option to have the passages read aloud.  The pictures are bright and colorful, and there are even some video clips included.  The information is broken down into subsections, making it easier for young researchers.
Here is a sample page on Benjamin Franklin.  Do you teach timelines?  There is also an option to see a timeline of that person's life!

 When we do research projects with our technology facilitator and media specialist, we spend a good deal of time getting our students to cite their sources.  Guess what-PebbleGo has a citation button making it even easier for students to get this information!

PebbleGo is a great way to get students into reading non-fiction passages.  I love to put my rising kindergartner on this site to learn about animals.  Oh, and there are some games too!

If your school or district is evaluating different programs to enhance your science and social studies curriculum, you should definitely check this out.  I heart PebbleGo!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Sigh...So Tired...

I just spent some time going through posts on my Google Reader account, and it seems like everyone is feeling the same way as I am-TIRED!  The sad part is that the students are not even here yet!  I have not posted since last Tuesday, as I have been busy setting up my classroom and keeping my little one entertained.  I'm happy with how things are looking in my new room, but I have no pictures to post.  I also have no pictures of the "Where Are We?' sign that I made for outside of my classroom.  I feel like such a slacker, when the truth is that I have barely had a chance to sit down.

Here are a few things that make me happy:

1.  My new pink silicone keyboard cover for my laptop-$1.15 and no shipping!
2.  The huge back-to-school sale on Teachers Pay Teachers.  I found some AWESOME resources and paid next to nothing.
3.  Having a husband who never complains when he has to hang some of the same materials every time that I have to move classrooms-there will be a special place in heaven for the spouses of teachers (of course he has nothing to complain about since I stopped asking him to hang the number line that went around my classroom).

Thanks for stopping by!!!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Tech Tool Tuesday: Global Projects

Happy Tuesday, everyone!  Let me start by addressing teachers in North Carolina.  My friend Darcy Grimes is NC's Teacher of the Year for 2012-2013.  She is an incredible third grade teacher from Watauga County.  During the upcoming school year she will be blogging about her experiences in this role.  Be sure to follow her here.  She is a voice for all of us!

My Tech Tool Tuesday spotlight is on global projects resources.  Earlier today I had to do a presentation on this topic for my district's annual Summer Institute (two days devoted to staff development with technology).  I was asked to share some resources for helping teachers make connections with classrooms around the country and around the world.  Here were some of the project sites that we shared:

1.  Flat Classroom Projects:  This group of projects, created by Vicki Davis  and Julie Lindsay, is based on the premise of Thomas Friedman's book The World is Flat.  Many forces have contributed to the "flattening" of our modern world, the biggest one being all of the developments in technology.  Vicki and Julie have created several large-scale projects for many different age groups.  Last year I had the privilege of participating in "A Week in the Life," where my students collaborated with classrooms from the US, Canada, Poland, and China.  We collaborated to create VoiceThreads and other presentations to examine some of the similarities and differences between our lives.  Topics covered included clothing, food and celebrations, school time, environment, housing and transportation, and leisure time.  It was a very big project, but it really opened our eyes to what life is like in different parts of the world.

2.  Skype in the Classroom:  Teachers who have project ideas or are looking for classrooms to connect through Skype should check this out!  There are many fun project ideas such as Mystery Skype (you Skype with a group and figure out their location based on clues), Weather at Your Location, and Skype Book Clubs.  This is a great place to find ideas for projects or connect with others.

3.  Similar to Skype in the classroom, this site has the option of choosing a project to join or to suggest your own.  The nice part of this collection is that it uses a variety of technology besides Skype.  Their goal is to connect students around the world!

4.  E-Pals:  Years ago, e-pals was started as a way to connect classrooms by having digital pen pals.  Today's E-Pals is a database of projects in addition to schools looking to make connections.  If you haven't been to E-Pals in a few years, be sure to go and check it out!

5.  Flat Stanley:  Do you remember Flat Stanley?  Students would create  flat versions of themselves, mail them out, and hope to hear something back from the receiver.  Today's Flat Stanley is a collection of project ideas to connect students around the globe.  Now you can blog about Stanley's travels to be more involved in his adventures. 

6.  Projects by Jen:  I learned about this collection of PreK-6 projects from a colleague.  There are a lot of fun project ideas including a Christmas card exchange, an Oreo data collection project, and a new one that has students collaborating as they study Louis and Clark and learn about the Louisiana Purchase.  These are a fun set of projects for young students!

I would love to hear about other projects that you have done in order to help your students gain global awareness and connect with others!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Monday Made It and August Currently!

Hello all!  Every week I am so impressed with all of the things that other bloggy teachers are making.  Finally I have the chance to join in the linky fun with my first Monday Made It!  Stop by 4th Grade Frolics if you would like to link up!
This is nothing big, but my old classroom library is definitely in need of a Book Hospital.  I just hope that I can save all of the books that are admitted there!

I love this one!  I have tons of sets of flash cards, but I never can find what I need when I have a parent volunteer who is going to review facts with a student.  This can also be a center during math.  I currently have it set up for reviewing addition and subtraction facts to 18, but later I will have individual sets of multiplication flash cards.

Aren't these neat?  These are "algebra" dominoes-I saw these somewhere on Pinterest.  They remind me of what we do with Marcy Cook's balance tiles.  Students have to match up the end of the sticks based on the sums or differences.  I also made some for multiplication. 

Everyone seems to be making some sort of holder for No Name papers.  These are just magnets.  I found the wooden cutouts at Michael's and  painted them yellow.  I did the writing, covered them with Mod Podge, and then added a strong magnet.  Small, but useful!
I am also taking part in Farley's August Currently:
Be sure to stop by Oh Boy 4th Grade and link up!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Blog Spotlight, a Confession, and a Great Book

I am still a pretty new blogger, and I get so excited when people leave comments on my page.  Last night I received a comment from Alison at Teaching Maths with Meaning.  I stopped by her blog to thank her, and I was blown away but the math materials that she has!  She is a third grade teacher in Australia-how cool is that?  But what is even cooler is that she is giving away freebies of some of her creations.  Please show her some bloggy love and go check her out!

Now my confession...I have been unfaithful to my bookshelf.  My Shelfari says that I am reading Look Homeward, Angel and Teaching By Heart.  I really am reading those, but I'm just not that into them (one is for my book club, and the other was a non-required reading for my grad class).  So what have I been reading?  I was too embarrassed to add these to my Shelfari, but I recently finished:
Yes, you read those titles correctly.  Both were really funny books, and I would highly recommend any of Celia Rivenbark's books to any southerners or southern transplants with a sense of humor (just the titles of her books are hysterical).  It's summer, right?  I've read enough research this summer that I think I deserve some fun reading.  Give me clever humor over Fifty Shades of Grey any day.

No, those weren't my suggestion for a great book.  That would be the other book that I am reading:
Yep, that's Ron Clark from The Essential 55.  Our staff had to read it a few years ago, and you may have too.  His current book is about how he runs his school, Ron Clark Academy, in Atlanta.  I am REALLY enjoying this book.  He is so motivated to help children and will stop at nothing to help them.  Every school wants to be student-centered, and his truly is.  I also love the fact that not every story in the book is rosy-there are times when he was not able to help a student, and you can tell that it just tears him apart to even recall those situations.   This is a book that every teacher (and parent!) should read, as there are tips for everyone that touches the lives of children.

Although I am not embarrassed about reading this book, I still probably won't put it on the Shelfari because I am reading it so quickly!

I hope that everyone has a wonderful weekend!!!!